About Ruben

Aviation reporter from The Netherlands. Main focus on North European-related issues.

F-35 makes big splash in The Netherlands

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On June 1 we got our first look at the F-35A Lightning II during a Royal Netherlands Air Force press briefing. The aircraft recently made it’s premiere visit to The Netherlands and the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean from east to west. An Italian built aircraft had made the first altlantic crossing earlier flying from Cameri, Italy to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in the United States.

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Mali: Two dead in Dutch Apache crash

Two servicemen of the Royal Netherlands Air Force perished today in a Apache helicopter crash in Mali. This was just confirmed by the Chief of the Defence Forces General Tom Middendorp. Preliminary reports state that a mechanical failure was cause for the crash.

The Netherlands participates in a UN-mission working on peace and stability in Mali and protecting the local populace against islamic rebels. The Dutch detachment is based in Gao.

Update 20:22: General Middendorp says that the crash occured during an exercise about 50km north of Gao.

Update 21:10: According to MoD press release it was a live-fire exercise. A French attack helicopter was first at the scene after which Dutch Special Forces secured the area on the ground.

Update 21:12: Exact cause of the crash has not yet officially been confirmed. Investigation underway.

Update 21:57: Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert on Twitter: “They worked for a free world and for that they paid the highest price. Great respect. Our thoughts go out to their loved ones.”

War is Boring: Dutch Gunships Battle Mali Rebels

Last Saturday on January 24, an article by our Lieuwe de Vries was published on the popular long-form defense newssite War is Boring. Read an excerpt below:

“Dutch attack helicopters operating in Mali flew into action for the first time on Jan. 20. The result was a lopsided victory for the Dutch, who are taking part in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country.

The battle occurred as separatist rebels from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad—or MNLA for short—advanced on the northern town of Tabankort. The rebels used heavy weapons to fire on U.N. peacekeepers in the town.

The U.N. troops called in an Apache attack helicopter to provide fire support.”

Continue reading on War is Boring (opens new page) —>

Italians cut F-35 order in half

Last week, the Italian lower house approved a motion to cut the acquisition budget for the F-35 in half. Rome decided to buy 131 jets in 2002 but lowered this amount in 2012 to 90. Now, it looks like the Italians are going to fly about 45 F-35s and effectively buying a third of the original amount and degrading from a “flagship partner” to “best of the rest” with an order that barely exceeds that of countries like the Netherlands.

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Italiaanse JSF order gehalveerd

De Italiaanse tweede kamer heeft gisteren een motie goedgekeurd om het budget voor de aanschaf van Italiaanse JSF’s te halveren.  In 2002 besloot Rome om 131 toestellen aan te schaffen, het aantal in werd 2012 terug gebracht naar 90. Zoals het er nu uitziet komt het aantal op 45 te liggen. Italië houdt hier mee nog een derde van zijn originele order over en degradeert van een “flagship partner” naar “best of the rest” met een order die maar net het aantal van landen als Nederland ontstijgt.

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Why less F-35s would be better for the RNLAF

Over the last decade the Royal Netherlands Air Force has been a tactical air force, most of its operations in Afghanistan and Iraq were in support of ground troops. Both Dutch troops and those from international partners were supported by bombing, strafing or simply show of force operations by the RNLAF’s F-16AM fighter jets. Dwindling budgets and thus a decreased force size (down to 61 Falcons from a force that once numbered around 200 machines) have meant that the Dutch can now realistically sustain a deployment of just four aircraft.

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De Nederlandse Luchtmacht heeft de afgelopen tien jaar de rol van een tactische luchtmacht gespeeld: het heeft voornamelijk gezorgd voor ondersteuning aan grondtroepen in Afghanistan en Irak. Zowel Nederlandse als internationale troepen hebben luchtsteun gehad van de F-16AM’s in de vorm van bombardementen, het beschieten van tegenstanders met het boordkanon en door middel van show of force (laag vliegen over het strijdveld in de hoop tegenstanders af te schrikken). Echter, door aanhoudende bezuinigingen is het totale aantal inmiddels geslonken naar 61 F-16’s (waar het aantal vroeger in de 200 lag) en heeft Nederland tegenwoordig enkel vier van deze jachtvliegtuigen beschikbaar voor operaties in het buitenland.

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ItAF 37° Stormo Starfighter

We’re back from a short vacation! This weeks update is an Italian F-104S from the 37° Stormo. If you’re a regular at this site you’ll know we love Starfighters. And we love the Italians because they had these beauties in active service up until 2004. Thanks gents!

F-104S M.M.6909

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Click for larger image and more info